Jack Kyle: One of the greats

There are some images that resonate far beyond the confines of their subject matter or time.

One of those is the uplifting image of Jack Kyle congratulating Brian O’Driscoll after Ireland won our second Grand Slam in 2009 in Cardiff — 61 years after Kyle inspired the team that won Ireland’s first. That wonderfully warm picture reminds us that even if endeavour is not always rewarded then persistence usually is. It also underlines the mercurial but permanent nature of sporting greatness and leadership.

Kyle, who died on Thursday night aged 88 after a long illness, was voted Ireland’s best ever rugby player in 2002 and was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2008.

Had he done nothing more than play rugby his proud place in our history would be assured but he dedicated the great majority of his life, from 1963 until 2000, to humanitarian work as a surgeon in Indonesia and Zambia.

Not satisfied with being a great player he showed that he had the selflessness and broad sweep of vision it takes to become a great person. He will be long remembered as such.


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